The more I begin to heal the less I find myself apologising for it.
It would be easy to say sorry.
Sorry for the ways I have pulled away.
Sorry for the ways I have let you down.
Sorry for the messages I have not replied to.
Sorry for the calls I have not answered.
Sorry for my absence.
Sorry for my silence.
Sorry I can no longer meet your expectations.
Sorry I can no longer meet your needs.
Sorry I can no longer put your needs above my own.
Except, I’m not sorry.
Because, the thing is, it isn’t me that needs to heal.
It’s the little girl within me; the wounded child that nobody protected. Or stood up for. Or put first. Or made to feel mattered.
The girl who was not heard, or seen.
The girl who grew up believing the needs of others were more important than her own.
That her body was not her own.
That her voice would never be heard.
That she wasn’t worth the respect of others.
That love was something to be earned.
That boundaries could be crossed by whoever so pleased.
That her value was not in what she could give, but only in what others could take.
I am fighting for her, because no one else ever did.
I am putting her first, because no one else ever did.
I am standing between her and the world; honouring her, protecting her, nurturing her, allowing her the time and space to mend the brokenness without more being taken when there is nothing left to give; without more of the world pulling her in every direction with its demands and expectations.
Because she matters. Because I matter.
I am choosing to heal the way I need to; my time, my way.
I am choosing me.
And I will no longer apologise for that.
– ©️ Kathy Parker 2018 –
Because so afraid to break the silence, we become it #WhyDidntIReport
Spoken Word Poem © Kathy Parker 2018
“You didn’t love her. You just didn’t want to be alone. Or maybe, maybe she was good for your ego. Or maybe she made you feel better about your miserable life. But you didn’t love her, because you don’t destroy the person that you love” (Grey’s Anatomy)
When I look back now, it’s hard to believe I ever thought you loved me. How desperate I must have been to call that love when in your hands I became so small; crushed by the heaviness of your fingers as they pressed into my skin, the imprint faded but still visible after all this time. How eroded my worth became with each crash of furious words that washed against the already worn breakwaters of my heart. How afraid I became of not just you, but of everything I once was that I no longer trusted myself to be, for fear I would take a wrong step and set off another landmine beneath the surface of your skin.
You left that day, stopping only to push the knife in a little deeper on your way out the door. The pain was so great I hoped to bleed out, right there on the floor where you left me. I wondered if I could survive what you had done to me; if I even wanted to. But resilience has always coursed through my veins faster than sorrow and though weak, I found the courage to pick myself up from the floor that day.
It all seems so long ago now. How far I have come since these pale scars were once open wounds. How distant the taste of bitterness upon my tongue now seems. I’ve long since stopped wanting to call, to write, to tell you of all the ways you nearly broke me, but not quite. Instead, I have come to realise should I ever pass by you on the street, there is only two words I would need to say.
Thank you for teaching me I will never again settle for someone who can destroy a woman and call that love; who can not only justify their abuse through victim-blaming, but make a woman believe they actually deserved such abuse.
Thank you for teaching me I will never again be controlled by another in a relationship; that I am the keeper of my own life, my own choices and my own relationships and I’m entitled to live my life with freedom, and not be imprisoned by another person’s power over me.
Thank you for teaching me I need not compromise who I am and all I believe in order to be loved; that I do not need to scrape my knees on the ground of another’s approval, nor ever apologise for who I am to those who choose not to accept me regardless.
Thank you for teaching me I do not need another to complete me; that I am better off being alone than ever being with someone who does not love me with respect, kindness, thoughtfulness, gentleness, acceptance.
Thank you for teaching me never to look back; for all the apologies that didn’t reach your eyes, for all the promises spoken through lying teeth, for all the times I did come back only to end up more shattered by you each time.
Thank you for helping me understand men like you never change.
Thank you for teaching me I deserve more than you.
Thank you for teaching me about love.
The kind of love you could never give.
The kind of love I am worth.
The kind of love I will only ever accept from another so long as they can love me the way I have finally learned to love myself.
You were left so shattered by him; the way he tore in like a hurricane and ripped everything from you – your heart, your worth, your confidence, your hope.
You wondered how you would piece yourself together again when only broken remains lay your feet. Dazed, you picked them up, examined them, tried to place them side by side and make them fit. But they no longer did. Who you used to be was nowhere to be found in the wreckage he left behind; the only thing left was the grief over everything you had lost, everything he had taken from you, everything you once were and would never be again.
Through tears and regrets your weak hands fumbled in the mess that surrounded you; here and there you would pick up what few pieces you could find and hold them close to your chest until you eventually had enough to rebuild something of the life you once had.
You placed the pieces before you and stared at the chaos, defeated.
But soon, you began to notice the way the haphazard curves of the lines no longer looked amiss, but instead, wild and untamed. The way the colours and patterns came together not in a mess of confusion, but in a mosaic of abstract beauty. The way the cracks and flaws seemed less like weakness, and more like art; profound and perfect in their own right.
Filled with hope, you continued to dig through the remains, only using the best pieces to rebuild with; the pieces that were strong and resilient and beautiful and brave. Pieces you had once loved, but that had been lost and discarded by his careless hands.
Most importantly, pieces that carried no remnant of him.
You built until you were whole again; stronger than you had ever been, put back together with courage and resilience and worth and strength and the wisdom of one who has survived the storm.
From the brokenness came something new.
This is what we learn from those who break us.
That after the destruction, there is always the transformation.
And one day, my love, you will come to understand the beauty of a hurricane.
That sometimes what comes to break us, is actually what saves us.
~ © Kathy Parker ~
The Unravelled Heart, a profoundly true reflection on trauma, abuse, love, loss and healing, now available worldwide on Amazon http://amzn.to/2BIvFhp
Then there are the ones that like to hold you to the mistakes of your past. Who will try and drag you back through your own shame and make you believe you don’t deserve the dream you have fought so damn hard your whole life to achieve.
Their words will be calculated – targeted missiles they will aim at the places they know will be the weakest; the places they know have been wounded before.
This is what they will tell you:
That the person you once were is who you will always be.
That the person you were at your worst is the most you will ever amount to.
That you will never be anything more than the mistakes you once made.
That you are worthless, hopeless, useless.
Don’t listen to them.
Because here’s the thing.
Nobody has the right to judge you.
Nobody has the right to hold you prisoner to your mistakes when they don’t know a damn thing about the choices you had to choose from and how hard you fought just to survive.
Nobody has the right to shame you for your humanity. To deny you the right to be human. To deny you the grace of the human condition that sees us all fuck up at times and learn from that and do better.
Nobody has the right to take away your redemption. To take every damn drop of blood poured for your healing, your growth, your change, your becoming, and make it worth nothing.
We are not held captive to our yesterdays, to the person we once were when we knew no better. We are not bound by our mistakes, to the ways we hurt others when our hearts were hurting so damn much inside our fragile chests. We are not defined by our rock bottom, when nobody knows what it has taken us to claw our way out to become the person we are today.
We are not our past.
We are not our shame.
Nobody has the right to judge the heart they do not see.
Your heart is beautiful; made new with each day you have woken and determined to do better. You are worthy. You are deserving. You are everything they will never be.
Forgiveness, grace, second chances: these are the things we offer other humans when we understand the frailty of our own humanity. When we understand that mercy always triumphs over judgement, and that this is how we offer love.
There will always be those who throw stones. Let them. For their feet will forever be bound by the shore, destined to watch as you, my darling, become the ocean.
I was reminded today that we can choose to be bitter. We can be bitter over how much we have been hurt, the injustice of every way we have been wronged. Over the ways we weren’t loved and how we weren’t cared for and all that we didn’t receive that we felt we were entitled to. We can carry that close to us and hold it dear and let it dictate how we treat the world. Respond in kind. Even score. Eye for an eye.
Or we can see what a blessed opportunity we have to be the catalyst for change. To be the ones to break generational cycles. To choose to no longer hurt others because of the ways others have hurt us. To do for others what was never done for us. To sow love where only hate has been reaped.
To do differently; to do better.
It doesn’t always come easy, and it doesn’t always seem fair – to be the ones to have lived without love and yet be the ones to offer love back into the world that broke us. There isn’t any justice in that. Yet we are the ones who now choose to put in the hard work of ripping out our thistles of anger, bitterness, and judgement that we have allowed to grow and have nurtured with our unforgiveness, no matter how justified we may have been.
It takes much effort from our often weary hands to work the hardened soil of our hearts so that new seeds may be planted; much dirt under our nails and blisters on our fingers and grit that gets trapped inside our skin that we scrub, and scrub, and scrub, yet still can’t be free of. But it’s not always our own pain that matters. It’s how we choose to treat others in spite of that which makes all the difference.
It isn’t our responsibility to change the entire world ourselves – that is too much for each of us to carry. But we can change our part of it by offering love in the places we have been hurt the most. This is how we can heal not only the hearts of others, but also ourselves.
Because today, as I was able to offer love in a place I had been wounded, something was changed inside of me too. Something was released. Softened. Broken open. Healed. Restored. A work was done deep inside of me as I chose to override my own pain so that I may not cause the same pain to another.
A new seed is born.
The world is healed a little more.
Our healing comes in many ways. But always, always, our healing is found in the courage to choose love, even when it’s hard.
And sometimes it is so hard to care for others when you can barely care for yourself. When you are tired in a way sleep will never ease. When the night goes too long and the morning comes too soon and you wonder where you will draw the strength to get through another day when there is nothing left in your drought-stricken bones.
You dress, make coffee, force a smile and hope nobody studies your eyes close enough to see the 4am loneliness that still lingers like tendrils of ivy that have crept in and wrapped themselves around your soul; relentless, incessant, determined.
You wear brave so well that nobody sees beyond the surface of your survival to the battle beneath. The way every day is another day on the frontline, no matter how exhausted and torn apart you already are. Nobody sees the fresh blood drawn from old wounds or the anguish in your muscles that are always on guard or how much it takes for you to get back up when your knees bleed from the crawl.
You do the best you can but it never feels enough. Every night inadequacy whispers its shame against your ear and soon your heart beats in time with its words. Failure. Disappointment. Hopeless. Weak. Useless. Incapable. All you ever wanted was to do better – to be better – than what was shown to you. But you feel as though you fall so short. That you let down those who need you. That you aren’t enough and never will be.
You’re so damn hard on yourself. As if it isn’t enough just to have survived this far. As if it isn’t enough to have found a way to stitch your broken pieces together when there was such little of yourself left. Instead, you’re so ashamed of not being straight lines and seamless joins and all you see are the jagged scars drawn across your body and your fingers trace over them like braille and to you they spell defeat.
Darling, let me tattoo truth inside your wrists so when you’ve forgotten who you are you need only look down. Undefeated. Worthy. Resilient. Strong. Courageous. Determined. Perfect. Enough. And if the light grows weak and the words fade before your eyes I will say them out loud and the letters will fall from my mouth and form a bridge that will lead you back to yourself once more.
You are so much more than you see. Your weakness intertwines with courage, your fear entangles bravery and your vulnerability is laced with strength. There is so much fortitude in the way you give all you have, even when you have nothing to give.
I know, today, you don’t believe me. I know today you are tired eyes and tear-stained pillows and battle scars etched upon your face. But all I ask is you look away from what you have come to believe about yourself and instead, look at me. Search my eyes for your reflection and in them you will see the truth.
That the way survival looks on you, my love, is nothing short of breathtaking.
Image courtesy http://asman0526.javanblog.ir